Break the vertebrate hegemony!


If you appreciate biodiversity and want to read about organisms other than pet cats, and if you aren't too squeamish about spiky creatures with crunchy carapaces of squishy ones encapsulated in slime, the latest Circus of the Spineless is just the thing for you. Browse the thumbnails at Pharyngula, and follow through to the critter that appeals to you most. I thought the snail armored in iron sulfide was spectacular, but the mantispids are pretty neat, too, and I'll always have a soft spot for the squid. Oh, and the strange pram bugs that occupy salp tests…never mind, you need to read them all.


And here we are, trapped in the tetrapod body plan.

You could cut off an arm or leg, or something. :)

I gave up on the vertebrate-centric world long ago. :-)

And mantispids are a fantastic example of convergence. The first time I saw one, when I was a kid, I thought I’d discovered a new kind of mantis.

This is it! I think the entry about the iron-sulfide armored snail is just what we’ve been needing.

These words: There is still much to find out about this snail …should be an invitation to the ID crowd to make a prediction.

What can ID tell us about how the snail/bacteria symbiosis controls the production of the scales?

This is your chance, all you DI Fellows, to trump the scientists and prove something was designed before they find a natural cause.

From the iron snail article:

But it does seem that the control of iron sulphides in cells by this snail which was probably a necessary precursor to the ‘armour’ is related to symbiosis with the bacteria that provide the gastropod with food. These bacteria live inside the esophageal glands (3) and seem to provide the snail with all of it’s nutrition as it has an atrophied gut.

The thing doesn’t even need to eat? That’s wild. I wonder if one day it will be possible to simply inject human newborns with a symbiotic organism that could provide all of our nutritional needs. We’d be like walking plants. It would be the end of world hunger.

I think I see a cool sci-fi plot in the making.…


(Named after an infamous Nabokov character, are you?)

Humans don’t really eat our own food, either, we have all kinds of bacteria living in our guts as well, and, in a sense, we eat their waste (at least partly).

“Selfish Gene”-style, however, WE have to do all the work to fill our tummies, so THOSE critters can have a happy life.

I’ve often wondered about gene-slicing the cuttlefish camouflage capabilities in as a substitute for our melanin system. We could then all be any color we wanted to. “Race” would be nearly meaningless. Not that we wouldn’t find something else to winge about…

(Named after an infamous Nabokov character, are you?)

Well spotted. :)

Ball o’ Gall! Ball o’ Gall! Ball o’ Gall!

Oh, yeah. TCM has run Lolita a couple of times this month. Fun how a normal guy like me forgot that. I’m really just a regular guy. Yes sir. Real normal. Shall I talk to the hotel clerk, Swine, about that room, Mr. Humbert?

H. Humbert,

One fragment of the plot in David Brin’s Comet included a faction that had been infected with symbiotic organisms that provided them with the nutrition they needed. FWIW, it was an interesting book, but I’m not sure it was the most probable outcome (does that have any meaning for a sci-fi novel?)

I hear a cool song in the making …

There’s nothing you can plot that hasn’t already been plotted…

Alas, I worked it out once, and the sunlight that impinges on something the size of a human isn’t nearly enough to power a human metabolism, not even a couch potato. Very sad.

Alas, I worked it out once, and the sunlight that impinges on something the size of a human isn’t nearly enough to power a human metabolism, not even a couch potato. Very sad.

We could always mass-produce sunlamps.


Re: symbiosis with sulfur-fixing bacteria (I’m assuming that’s what bacteria associated with pyrite would be doing): don’t forget all of the macrofauna in seafloor hydrothermal vent systems. Most people will recall the cool hemoglobin-bearing tube worms from the Pacific, but there are also plenty of mollusks, and they look incredibly disgusting with all that hemoglobin pouring out of them.

Urk, sorry, it _is_ a vent organism. I should have went through the link first, but I was distracted by the cephalopods, for which I have a soft spot.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on January 29, 2006 8:39 AM.

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